Columbus’ training camp was, at one point, filled with veteran invitees.
But not anymore.
On Wednesday, the club announced the release of four players from their professional tryouts — defenseman Keith Aulie, defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, right wing Mike Brown and center Jarret Stoll.
Of the four, Stoll is the most prominent release. The 34-year-old, who won a pair of Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, saw an opportunity in Columbus given the club’s relative lack of depth down the middle, and was hopeful to continue his NHL career after splitting last season between the Rangers and Wild.
But it didn’t work out.
Head coach John Tortorella has enough options at center with Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson, and there is hope Pierre-Luc Dubois — the No. 3 overall pick at this year’s draft — can crack the opening-night roster.
Stoll did anticipate the possibility of getting released but, earlier this week, told the Columbus Dispatch getting dropped from his PTO wouldn’t mean he’d contemplate retirement.
“I definitely think I have a lot left in the tank and my body feels good,” Stoll said. “I understand the game is getting younger – young, skilled and fast — but I feel like I can still contribute.”
Brown, a journeyman tough guy, didn’t do enough to stand out and earn a contract. Same goes with Aulie and Bergeron, both of whom were always likely to end up getting dropped from their respective offers. Columbus has a fairly deep blueline at the moment, especially with prized rookie Zach Werenski expected to play a significant role this year.